Advances in materials science and engineering play a crucial role in supporting the U.S. economy and national security. To maintain its leading edge in the field, the United States relies on a rich and diverse innovation ecosystem encompassing industry, academic institutions, and government laboratories. While this ecosystem has generated numerous gains for defense agencies, the technology sector, consumers, and the country as a whole over many decades, recent years have brought new challenges and a shifting global dynamic in the field. The United States, long a global magnet for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and expertise, has seen its competitive edge slip as other countries in Europe and Asia have increased their investments in cultivating science and engineering talent and innovation. In 2020, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic caused far-reaching disruptions for both education and supply chains across the world, compounding many of the dynamics that were already affecting materials science and engineering in the United States.
To explore these issues, the Workshop on Materials Science and Engineering in a Post-Pandemic World was organized as part of a workshop series on Defense Materials Manufacturing and Its Infrastructure. Hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the virtual event brought together approximately 30 speakers and attendees representing materials science, engineering, and manufacturing experts from industry, academia, and government agencies. The 3-day workshop explored education and workforce trends across the nation and the globe, with particular focus on the U.S. Department of Defense and university-government collaborations. Participants discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected science and engineering education, opportunities to reimagine traditional education for the field, and the imperative to develop a more diverse workforce. Several speakers presented their views on what the post-pandemic future may hold, and many offered perspectives on key concerns and priorities for the field moving forward. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussion of the workshop.
Table of Contents
|2 The Talent Pipeline: Workforce Data and Trends||4-10|
|3 From Lab to Field: Recent University-Government Successes||11-17|
|4 The Global Stage||18-21|
|5 Positioning DoD and Its Workforce for New or Expanded Areas||22-26|
|6 Finding and Retaining Talent at Non-DoD Agencies||27-31|
|7 The Future with COVID-19||32-34|
|8 Traditional Education Reimagined||35-40|
|9 Developing a Diverse Workforce||41-45|
|Appendix A: Statement of Task||48-48|
|Appendix B: Workshop Agenda||49-52|
|Appendix C: Acronyms||53-53|
|Appendix D: Biographical Information for Speakers||54-63|
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